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WEATHER

Snow strains buildings to breaking point

Heavy snowfall in southern and central parts of Sweden has caused several roofs to cave in, while rail authorities have called a halt to a number of train services amid continuing extreme weather conditions.

An elderly man was killed on Friday when a machine storage shed gave way on a farm in Håcksvik, 50 kilometres south of Borås in western Sweden. The walls and roof of the structure are believed to have yielded at 5.30pm to the weight of the snow that fell in large quantities over the course of the day.

In Vänersborg, disaster struck at 3.30am on Saturday as the roof on the western town’s brand new stadium caved in. Local sports authorities said the roof had been cleared of all snow over the course of Friday. But the efforts were not enough to prevent a collapse, as a 100 square metre section of the roof plunged to the surface of the bandy pitch in the middle of the night. There were no reports of any injuries but there is thought to be a high risk of further collapse.

“Nobody dares to go in or go up on the roof. I don’t know how we’re going to go about this, it’s not going to be an easy one to solve,” emergency services coordinator Karl-Erik Johansson told local newspaper TTELA.

The stadium, which was opened in September last year, has come in for sharp criticism locally for the high cost of its construction. Originally projected to cost 140 million kronor ($20 million), the local council has so far paid out 275 million kronor to contractors and suppliers.

There was also snow damage in nearby Falkenberg when the roof of an industrial building fell in.

Rabbits were the unwitting victims of the weather in Nyköping, 100 kilometres south of Stockholm, when a wall and half the roof of a tennis hall collapsed. A national rabbit show was taking place in the building at the time. No humans were injured but an estimated half of the 1,648 rabbits were trapped inside.

The country’s roads were also seriously affected by the heavy snow.

“A lot of cars have driven into the ditch but there have been no serious injuries. It’s very slippery on the roads at the moment. People should take it easy in traffic,” said Pernilla Sundell at Stockholm county police.

A number of trains have been cancelled as a result of the adverse weather conditions. All rail traffic was halted on Saturday morning between Gothenburg and Karlstad, Uddevalla and Herrljunga, as well as between Eskilstuna and Arboga. Replacement buses have been brought in to replace rail service on the lines affected.

“The rail authority (Banverket) has decided to reduce traffic. Large quantities of snow have fallen that need to be cleared before trains can get through,” said Carl Gustaf Olsson, spokesman for rail operator SJ.

All other rail traffic is proceeding as normal, though there are delays on a number of routes.

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WEATHER

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

Large areas of Sweden saw extreme levels of rain over the weekend, with the city of Linköping receiving more than 100mm of rain in 24 hours, twice as it usually receives in the whole of August. 

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

According to Swedish weather forecaster SMHI, the Linköping-Malmslätt area received 96mm between Saturday night at 8am on Sunday morning. The area normally received between 60mm and 70mm in August as a whole. 

“There was such an absurd amount of rain that the data was at first rejected by our system,” Therese Fougman, a meteorologist at the forecaster, told Sweden’s TT newswire. “It is continuing to rain during the day, and it is lying in a band over Östergötland, Sörmland och further up towards Uppland, predicting there would be a further 40mm to 50mm in the next 12 hours. 

The downpours have led to flooding in several areas, and caused traffic problem with cars at risk of aquaplaning on roads such as the E18, which were covered in a thick layer of water. 

Lennart Ågren, who was the duty leader of rescue services in Östra Götaland, told TT on Sunday afternoon that rescuers had been called out to several floods in Linköping and Mantorp. 

“There were streets under water, and water was running into properties so we had to throw all our resources at it for several hours,” he said. 

In Jönköping, rescue services were called out to flooding at a school and in other places, while in Växjö, lightening hit close to the place where a student party was being held at the local university campus. 

In Linköping, rescue services told TT that they had been called out 30 times. “We’ve been stretched but have managed to handle it,” said Pedher Helmer, who was in charge of rescue services in Östergötland over the weekend. 

The heavy rain is expected to move to Blekinge, Skåne, Öland and Gotland over the coming days, with a risk for flooding. 

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